Introduction to "Comic Book Numbering"

Comic book numbering used to be a very simple issue - each issue was incremented one number from the preceding issue in a simple natural number sequence starting at issue #1 until infinity.

Occasionally there would be some complications when a series was re-named (often when a key character in an ongoing anthology becomes popular enough for their own title), such as "The Incredible Hulk (1968)" taking over the numbering from "Tales to Astonish (1959)" or "Captain America (1968)" taking over the numbering of "Tales of Suspense (1959)".

However, DC Comics started an inadvertent trend when John Byrne re-structured the Man of Steel in the mid-1980's. All Superman comics (Action Comics and Superman) were taken offline for a few months, and a re-launch re-started Superman (1987) with a new #1, and continued the pre-existing Superman (1939) numbering with "Adventures of Superman (1987)". Superman (2006) re-merged Superman (1987) and Adventures of Superman (1987) to a single title.

Both DC and Marvel comics insisted on the occassional oddly numbered comic (0, -1 for Marvel, 1,000,000 for DC) which made continuity of numbering strange.

Marvel had a mathematical psychotic break and sold off key characters (e.g. Hulk, Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America and the Fantastic Four) to a group of artist/writers in the ill-fated "Heroes Reborn" period of about a year in the mid-1990's, each series being re-started as a new #1. This experiment lasted about a year from 1996 to 1997, where the characters were re-introduced into the "real" (616) universe of Marvel in "Heroes Return".

Marvel's marketing department, realizing that "#1" issues had extra purchase value, began randomly re-starting series to generate new #1's. Later, someone woke up and realized that they were missing the chance to capitalize on significant milestone issues (500, 600 etc.) and began to re-number the ongoing series, with mixed success. Some re-numbering was simply the inclusion of series X and series Y of the same character, with the new numbering being the sum. However, with other series, the effect was somewhat confusing (see Hulk).

This site is an attempt to make sense of the numbering issues.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Iron Man #593 - Where'd that come from?

OK - Marvel loves to mess with the issue numbering.  Below is my "best guess' to how November's Iron Man is numbered #593 after #11.

Title (Start Year) Start End Tot Running Count Notes
Invincible Iron Man (1968) 1 332 332 332  
Invincible Iron Man (1996) 1 13 13 345  
Invincible Iron Man (1998) 1 89 89 434  
Invincible Iron Man (2005) 1 16 16 450  
Invincible Iron Man (2007) 17 28 12 462  
Iron Man: Director of Shield (2008) 29 35 7 469  
Invincible Iron Man (2008) 1 33 33 502  
Invincible Iron Man (2008) cont'd 500 527 28 530 Plus 500.1
Iron Man (2013) 1 28 28 558 Plus 20.inh
Invincible Iron Man (2015) 1 14 14 572  
Superior Iron Man (2015) 1 9 9 581  
Invincible Iron Man (2017) 1 11 11 592  
Invincible Iron Man (2017)) 593+        

1 comment:

  1. I was just thinking about the numbering issue. Since in a few months Brian Michael Bendis takes over Superman and Action Comics. Then Superman gets a new number 1 after having run for only 45 issues with 1 annual. I keep thinking "Why are they doing this??" It just makes no sense.